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he never asked: what was the result of these examinations? what had they found? a cardiologist is assigned to him in the white house who checks him out daily. he joshes with the cardiologist, gossips with him, never asks about his condition. so one would have the sense that he doesn't know what's happening or doesn't want to know. but he, on one occasion, in one of these private sessions with his confidante and distant cousin, daisy suckley, he says, in effect, 'i--i am very sick, much sicker than i have been told, and if i am sick enough, i will not run for another term. i must be convinced that i can complete another term.' he's talking about a fourth term. and as we know, he--he--he's right on one count. he runs again. he's wrong on another count, he dies only four months into his fourth term. c-span: unfortunately--no, fortunately, i have about a
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hundred more questions for you, but unfortunately, it's--time is up. our guest has been joseph persico. his book is called "roosevelt's secret war." thank you very much for joining us. >> guest: thank you for having me, brian. ..
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>> we have some different accidents from my life, i almost didn't make it. that's another story. as you know, my book is about horrible crime, that's one of the ways to describe it, on november 8, 2008 in a patch of long island when a group of teenagers attacked and killed an immigrant from ecuador. he was not alone that night, walking with his best friend, and he survived the the attack, but the other did not. there were many reasons why i was attracted to the story.
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one of themfuls the nature of the crime. i found out early on that this young people, and they were very young, they were 17 and 18 at the time, juniors and seniors in high school, made it a practice, sport if you will, or entertainment to go around hunting for beaners, which is what they call immigrants. for somebody on that immigrated from mexico. they talk about how they were looking for illegals from mexico. so i was horrified by that, of course, as anybody would be, the fact that young people think so little of human life as to go out hunting for people as they were preyed.
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i wrote a story about study, two sociologists released from university, state university of albany, in which they said immigrants where no longer going to the city. they were, in fact, bypassing the cities and moving to suburb suburbia. that was happening all over the country, not just with hispanic immigrants, but all immigrants. i wr0 a story about that, and what they said was to professors was that this would have consequences. it would have consequences in terms of politics and elections, and we have seen that. also, in terms of tension and all kinds of things. i made a mental note to follow-up, and i never did. one of those things 245 reporters just move on to the next story, so when i heard
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about this, i thought this was in many ways a perfect follow-up bus everything that they said would happen in suburbia, and not far from here, i don't know if you have been there, but sussex is 60 miles, patchhook is 60 miles from new york city, and this situation was going on so near -- actually between new york city and the hamptons, and maybe not so many loss, but so many people from new york drive to the hamptons every weekends that maybe they don't look sideways and think, you know, this is going on here. these people are our neighbors, and it's happening right next door to us. that's the second reason i was attracted to the story, and the third reason, because as you know, i'm an immigrant myself. i came from cuba when i was 16 years old, a boarded a boat
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named manana, and i wrote a book about it called "finding manana," and i felt connected to the story. those of us who came from cuba in 1980 came to be known because the boat lift, and it became a derogatory term, but one i like and use with pride, but it became derogatory, no question about it. i see countries of labels, and what that means, what how much they request hurt, how much they can contain an entire group of people. they, at a certain point, criminality or criminals and it's close, and that label of illegality hunted the people who in sussex became, indeed, prey.
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from -- i began reporting the book in january of 2010 with the trial of jeffrey convoy, one of the seven young people. took me three very hard years. some of you here, and, in fact, probably all of you here know how hard i work. some of you even helped me 234 that -- in that work, for which i'm very, very grateful. i -- there was a lot happening in the three years. i went to -- it is a little village in ecuador, and many of you have perhaps heard of it, 30 miles, and it's smaller, and most have been there, and immigrants, majority of them are hispanics, and they are from
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ecuador, and practically all are from the little village. i was immediately attracted to that because that's how immigration happens; right? they arrive somewhere, and he or she starts realm, gets the job, the house, and begins calling his or her friends from family with reports of the good life or better life, jobs, housing, and they follow, people follow. i was also doing my first visit -- i made the first visit and it's in the book, of course; and he told me the story of how he came and began telling people of the wonders of long island and how they followed. that's really great. eventually, obviously, i had to go there and understand the forces that had pushed people out of ecuador because as you know, immigration is a two-way process. there's the pull and push
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effect; right? the pulling we do with our way of life and the fact that we paid better wages, and that we have jobs, not all the time, but usually, and the push is when imgrants leave for whatever reason, so i had to go to way sill low to find that. it was a pretty village, criss crossed by rivers, surrounded by mountains, an abundance of food, and very, very kind people, many of whom don't want to leave, and they are doing well, not very well, but well enough to stay. it's a village that changed dramatically because of migration. in fact, i remember standing out a point in the village and he feels the local paper in town, local weekly, and he said, this was the town before immigration, and this is it now. people from the village sent
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pictures from magazines and money and they say this is the help i want. down to the child, the kitchen cabinets, and he described the house, over over the years, he sent a hundred thousand dollars to have the house of his dream built. it was built. i visited it. it was waiting for him. his mother was there waiting for him. his mother was, of course, very sad, and she gave me a tour of the house. it had three stories. he had decided who was going to live where. we wanted to have all family together. shehe was not married, no child, but had two children and one brother, and a nephew. he was a god father of the nephew as well. she showed me in the living room huge entertainment center with a large tv and said he reallimented this very large tv, and the entertainment set,
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place, center had to be custom made for the tv because it was so big, and he arrived after he was killed, and she pointed like this with her chin to show me what was on top of the tv was his ashes, and it was extremely sad, extremely sad. i also, of course, talked to the parents who talked to me, the parents of the boys who attacked him, and not all of them did, but two did, and the book is better because of that, i feel. the father of jeffrey, mr. con roy was kind enough to open his home to me and tell me about the family and his son, and the family of chris overtone, and i know seven boys also talked to me, and i think it was a more nuanced portrayal of this young man in the book simply because i know more about them because their parents talked to me, and i'm sharedded their, you know,
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childhood, life experiences, and their families. i'm happy to report that the mayor of patchhook, he is the grand son of immigrants, and irish, mostly irish, italian immigrants, and also -- the family -- had never been to italy, and he said it's the best place in the world to be, and why be anywhere? particularly in the summer. after this, they realized they needed to reach out. he did not speak spanish or been anywhere, and he chose to go which was important. he read the book recently and e-mailed me saying -- i'm not
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quoting, but he's it's a really great book and he called it a cautionary tale that everyone should read in any way you want to. everybody should read the book. i'm using it here, everybody ought to read the book, particularly young people, and i say that because a loot of what happens ghn in the high schools. dpfs a large place, kids from i'm going to read a section of the book that's telling about high school, very short because i don't like reading. it's really -- before i began reporting the book, two of those
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students were in journalism school did a documentary on the case. in fact, one of them was my student when he was working on the documentary, and it was this documentary that inspired me because i watched and i realized this is great, but there's a lot more that i can do with a book so they gave me -- this is with abc news, and i had a documentary called "running wild," and they gave me the transcripts that came out of the high school right after it happened which is really important because even if i conducted the interviews in 2010, ewe have time to think about it, it's a different story. this is right after the murder. i boy named david, 16, raised in adorable, white, nonhispanic
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kids threw food at the latino students who huddled at their own tables in lunchtime, quote, like they said we immigrants should go back to mexico, later recalled, and what did you do? one of the filmmakers inquired? nothing. most of the time we remain quiet, they replied. when you eat and someone shouts, "go back to mexico," what goes through your head? how do you think, and how do you feel? they were trained reporters at the school. [laughter] i feel very -- long pause -- ashamed because we're in a country that is not ours, you know? has there ever been a moment when someone has said something demeaning to you in the school hallways, and have you had a problem with someone who dislikes imgrant students here in school? >> yes, sometimes we walk, they come by and push us, and we don't do anything because we don't want to get in trouble with them, david said. students on the way to the gym
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mumbled under the breath, you mexican, go back to the country, whether the student was mexican or not, or yell, talk english, and run to class. all the time, they complained, they would call the immigration authorities. the list of insults was long, and other students said, quote, you hear mexican, you hear dumb for dominican. that was a new one too. dumb in a can for dominican. you hear beaner, border hopper, there was a lot, the list goes on forever, illegal, or li -- i, for illegal imgrant. william said you can't walk in the hallway without looking back. i'm 17, born in new york city by someone when she was nine, heard nasty comments about port reiians and dominican. this is 40u she analyzed the behavior of the classmates. i don't think they are racist or
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anything, like, i think it's what they hear at home, like when you hear stuff in the news saying that, all, like mexicans cross the boarder, and hispanics come here trying to take over their jobs. i think if your parents tell all this stuff, i mean, gets implanted, embedded in your head, and they come to school with hatred like one of the only imgrants coming to the country, but, like i see the kids, they hear it at home and come here and they think they know everything, but, really, they are all really ignore rant. that was angelica speaking. i thought this was -- i don't have words to exprez it. this was just a selection, but there were pages and pages in the transcript of students talking about what went on in the high school. the grownups alleged they dpnt know, never heard. in fact, this attack, this high school situation and also the attacks in the village even been
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going on for a long time, and everyone including the town authorities claim they didn't know. it is possible they didn't know because many of the imgrants were here, are here undocumented, and they were attacked and went home. they didn't want to call the police because they didn't know what was going to happen to them if they called the police. how things changed, a lot of people ask me. i like to say yes, as i have, the mayor has been there, and the library is amazing. they were before the attack, and they continue to be. many members of the clergy have done a lot of things, you know, rabbis, pastors, pastor walter
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has programs in the church to help the community in general, but i have to tell you that in april of this year, one was attacked, and three weeks later, two more for attacks, so what the mayor says is it's hard to tell and hard to know if they were crimes of hatred or crimes of opportunity. many of the immigrants carry cash because undocumented, and they cannot get paid with checks, so they carry cash. the mayor was happy that the immigrants, after they were attacked, came to him first. that shows the lines of communication are open in the town. that's a positive thing.
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the kids didn't live where the attacks happened. they knew there were immigrants there. they lived in other places. to e7d, i want to read another short passage from the trial of jeffrey cop -- con roy, and this is the beginning of chapter one. this is when the only accident occur viving witness of the attack, of the attackers, of course, he was on the witness stand and the defense lawyer and prosecutor are asking questions about the attack. did you ever see a knife, asked william, the lawyer representing jeffrey conroy. the young man, who at 17, confessed to a stabbing and kill his friend. never. did you see anyone stab him? no, because of the second attack. i'm not asking, please stop. i'm sorry, sorry about that. that's fine, the lawyer said,
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and moved on to the next question. it was not fine, a simple no could not convey the feelings, denied he stayed at wake thinking what is. the hours he mulled over his actions on the day of the attack. it was not fair the lawyer wanted a simple yes or no. both answers could accurately describe the fears or regrets. the truth was that he turned his back momentarily on his friend and the attackers to run for safety to a nearby alley. he had called # out to him to follow him, but he had stood his ground and fought. the truth was he had seen the knife, he wished he had. when you got to the police precinct, did you talk to the detective, a police officer right away, or did you have to wait, the lawyer continued? i have to wait. do you know how long? two, three hours, three hours. and during that time, that two or three hours you were waiting to speak to a police officer, did you learn about what happened to your friend? no. okay, so when did you learn
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that? i didn't find out until the detechives approached me, introduced themselves, said they were detectives, and the first thing i asked was, how was my friend? and what did they say? they said, i'm sorry, your friend passed away, he's dead. at this point in the trial, he could no longer hold back tears. he wanted to go back to the one-room apartment, shut the door, and stay inside with his friends watching tv, wishes he never went out that day at all. if he had said no instead of yes when he called in the afternoon of november 8, 2008, if he had not been so accommodating to his older, wiser friend, perhaps he would be alive. he had briefly considered turning down the invitation today, but he had detected something that was of longingness. later, he wondered, did he know that he was going to die that day? did he somehow know he had hours
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to live, and that's why he didn't want to be alone? he may not have needed a savior that day for he knew he could not have saved his friend. what he needed, he had accountantedded after the attack, was someone to be a witness. so here he was, more than 60 months after that day bearing witness. how did you know him, the prosecutor asked, unleashing a flood of memories. he cleared his throat before answering, i have known him since i was 5 years old. i want to read that because -- i wanted to read that because i think it encapsulate what the book is about. it's about regret. it's about a senseless murder. it's about racism and bigotry, yes, but mostly, it is about people imperfect people, and what motivates them, and what takes them do what they do. no matter where you are from, come here or from south of the
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border. thank you very much. [applause] >> is there discussion on how things have changed? >> yes. i personally have not reported that part -- >> not changed. >> oh, not changed. i have not record the that part because the book was very focused on the time this took place, but i have been reading in the library, and at least one young student from the high school went, and she said that things had changed, and that immigrants and nonimgrant student the are now getting together organically, she said, and, for example, having lunch together in the cafeteria, which was not the case before. it was a very divided school. i think part of the reason is because the students there said that now the english learners
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are not in their own hallway. they had separate classes, separate, but equal, and we know that doesn't work, and so they were in their own limit world. there was not interaction except when the other students had to walk to the gym and had to go through the hallway, and that's when things happen. she said that is no longer the case, so that's true. that's good news. >> the immigrants, how they supported themselves, how they worked? did they -- was it agricultural? i know sussex was agricultural. >> at a certain point, now, perhaps now because of the way it was construction and lawn maintenance, lawn work where they were -- part of the issue was that this is not a wealthy
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village, this is not upper middle class people. these are lower to middle class people, and so here they were seen as competitors for jobs as well, and with the turn in the economy, which began in 2007, it's not coincidence these crimes took place in 2008. it tends to happen. i did a lot of investigation into hate crimes, and that kind of goes hand-in-hand, and so that did not -- that's how they make a living there mostly. lop work, a lot of them. some women work in the homes, you know, not unlike what they do here in new york, taking care of the cleaning and babysitting.
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>> today, they took a program off, but what shocked me is that the head of the group was latino, name is garcia. >> the student group? >> that came up with the thing. >> uh-huh. >> is he is latino. what, to me, it was shocking knowing that that was -- that was specifically that by a latino decided this would be a good idea. did you find any self-hate among the groups that you talked to? >> i didn't find self-hate, but one of the attackers, his name was jose, and his mother is african-american and his father is port puerto rican, and what i learned in reporting this book is what i think we know already. people are kind to humanity to those they know, and so to go not to those they don't know. it's not different, like, for example, friendship between
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blacks and whites, sometimes with gay people. it's like, oh, my best friend is gay, but, you know, i don't believe in whatever. it's kind of -- they were comfortable in their own little world because they knew each other and spoke the same language, literally, and it was a newcomer, the person who didn't speak the language, and that was not like them. in fact, their girlfriend, long time, on and off girlfriend of coproy was from bolivia, yeah. she was very loyal to him. she's also in the book. she went to the reading. she's a very sweet girl. she's moved on. and, you know, people say, how -- a lot of people here in the trial said jeffrey had latino friends. jeffrey had black trends. he can't possibly be racist. you know, i'm not a psychologist to opine about those things, but i also know from my research in
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hate crimes, that many times hate crimes are not motivated by bigotry. they are motivated by young people who are seeking thrills, thrill seekers rather than people who are hateful, and it's a kind of group behavior that happens usually after drinks or drugs, in this case, both. they were smoking pot, and they had had a few beers before the event, and it's a group thing. it's difficult to find -- like, i don't think one of them alone would have attacked him. it was group behavior, and for them, it was a thrill. it was an activity. it was the thing to do. now, why would they do it with immigrants and not anybody else? it's the question. i think it had a lot to do with the atmosphere in sussex at the time, but frankly, the entire country and beyond. 2008 was a particularly bad year
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for immigrants all over the world. there were a lot of hate crimes, a lot of bigotry, a lot of resentment, in part because of the economy, and in part because when people, i think, walk up and realize that there are a lot of them out there. i mean, it was like, who are these people; right? so there were a lot of reactions all over the world, not just in the u.s.. sussex county, in particular, elected officials, and this is a theme throughout the book, were careless in what they said. you knowings they talked about not only illegal indians but anchor babies, the children of immigrants who crossed the border to have kids, one of them said, and so it just became sort of fair game as to -- as you heard in one of the things i read from this young woman in high school, the media played a role in in; right? i think it was just what they were -- it was part of the -- this was the environment in
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which they grew up. >> you point out in the book that there's a healing process going on, and tragedy, but many other places where they don't go through any kind of work, even in the state of new york, and, you know, you move far away from the state upstate new york, you find much more peace. when you explored these effects of the reck rick of hatred, postures all the time, i mean, these kids were saying that, and
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i also think it's important to say they were kids, 16, 17 years old. >> right. >> they probably repeated things they heard at home, that parents would say. >> right. >> that, you know, many well-known actors on fox radio say all the time. >> uh-huh. >> the kind of threat we find on facebook. we post any story about immigrants, we have immediately 10-15 people saying exactly the same thing, only worse, so those who live through this wretched, and to go and actually gang up with buddies and chase. >> yes. i want to say several things about this. first of all, i think in
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manhattan, we live under the illusion that this can't happen here. they do. they do. a few blocks from here, a columbia professor was attacked recently by a group of young people in harlem because he was wearing a turbine, and he had a beer; right? that happened a month ago, i think. we just got figures on hate crimes and hate crimes are up by 30%. they are fueled in new york city and sussex. now, i don't want to alarm you, though it is alarming, but what -- part of what has happenedded is that in some places, sussex county being one of them, the way there were
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certain hate crimes classified as vandalism. if you write something awful on the wall of a synagogue, which is often the case, that used to be vandalism. that was the hate crime. the numbers have gone up in part because of that. okay? i think it's embarrassing, frankly, when you read the report that new york state, hate crimes have gone up 30%, and that the two places that are responsible for that, are sussex county, and new york city. i think we need to be clear that we're really not out of the woods just because we live in new york city. the second question that i wanted to say is you question this is difficult to answer because, clearly, i'm not in this kid head; right? i was not able to speak to any of them. i was able to speak to the
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parents of two families that have said, and it's complicated to know exactly what triggers this action. what i know is that had it been going on for a long time, and, again, he had to do with boredom, had to do with what are you doing on a friday and sad night in suburbia, of course, i'm not excusing it, but that's part of the reasons people mentioned. of course, if you are not interviewing, you can play sports, doing? else. you don't have to go out hunting people, but it had to do with the kinds of things they were hearing in the town and on tv. as you point out, everything you pointed out, it was part of the atmosphere, and it was group behavior, and it was, you know, it was prey. nobody called # the police. if the police had come, they would say, who are they? they are teenagers. they are kids. there's nothing we can do about it. the justice department has come down pretty hard on sussex county, and they already made changes and basically said if
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you had paid attention to this, if you had dope something with this teenagers, nobody would have died. right? so there was clearly -- it was an oversight. it's a kind of thing that when you have schools, and they allow bullying to go on, it, you know, it gets worse, but if you confront it, immediately, it's got to stop. you have to confront it. it was not confronted. it led, unfortunately, to the death of this child. >> you know, you talk to the media about this because politics say these things, and, basically, the person that's interviewing them lets them -- they don't call them on it with the exception of ramos, a couple of them, media personalities, called people on the hateful rhetoric, but then they -- it's blown off as well, oh, you're overlycepstive, but nobody hits them back with facts. new york city, the most liberal, whatever, 30% increase.
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nobody hits them back with facts. >> well, nobody -- it's a lot of people. some people do. >> sure, sure, yeah. >> some people do, andings you know, that's -- good journalism and there's no so good journalism, so i would hope that my students do, so, you know, it's just -- it's sometimes people con found balance and objectivity with letting people get away with things that are simply wrong, and what i say in class and what i've tried to do myself as a reporter is these people tell you, well, we don't like this people because they commit crimes in the neighborhood. what do you do? check out the crime statistics. in fact, statistics show that immigrants ten not to commit crimes not because of the best people in the room necessarily, but because if they are here undocumented, they don't want to bring attention it themselves. they don't want police knocking on their doors or be deported, so i think these are the things
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reporters are to do, check the statistics and check, you know, effectively, yes, you say that, but here's the numbers. yes? >> talked about how schools progressed, chirp are more integrated with each other. as far as the families that have this population, that has come to the town, is there a feeling nay put down roots they do so comfortably going to the mayor when attacked? do they have a sense of belonging in the community, or do they have any sense of this is where their children are raised, where they want to live? >> i think it depends. i think, like, with anything in life, children make a huge difference. if you have children -- children also -- immigration process, children have the parents assimilate a great deal. it is the children who become the translaters of your life, literally; right? they are the ones who take you by the happen and take you to the school. i certainly did that for my parents, and you introduced
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them, and you did, i'm sure, you introduced them to this world, and i think if you have children, and your children are already bilingual or maybe prefer english, this is home. this is home for many of them. if you have a good job, this is home. if you have a stable relationship, it's not like -- it's not unlike people who move from the u.s. to move to a different city. if things go well, it's home. if not, you have the option to go back to the other city. these people do not sometimes. i think it depends. for example, the person who was with him that night, when i met him, he was the saddest person i have ever talkedded to. he was just completely devastated. he's a man of deep, deep religious faith. he had an experience happen to him once, you'll read about it in the book when he was a little boy that changed his life in terms of faith and religion.
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deeply religious, and yet he was completely devastated by this event. he felt like nothing. he felt like if he could be hunted down like an animal, if he could see his friend getting killed, just, like, he could not understand it, he could not compute it, but the last time i saw him, he was in a relationship. he had a job. the person he's with has several chirp, so he was a step dad, and he seemed, if not happy, in a better place than when i met him. you know, time heals, sometimes. people move on. >> to assume this happens in our places too, so have you found
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anything? >> you know, one thing that i found while reporting this book, there was so much i didn't know; right? it's, like, anything, you know? writing a book is like getting a ph.d. on something. one thing i found out is that practically not one state has not had a hate crime against latinos, lately, but also his story going -- we have a pretty -- it's in the book. there's a whole chapter on that. we have a pretty dismal history in terms of hate crimes. we just don't know about it. there was some pretty horrific hate crimes that have taken place in other cities and in other states, not necessarily this hunting beaners situation, but equally gruesome and always in groups, and groups tend to be young and male; right?
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as a mother of three latino boys, i was horrified when i heard about the base. my oldest at the time was the age of jeffrey conroy and his friend. i could not look at him across the table and, you know, like, think someone like him committed this crime, but i also look at them and think they could be victims, too; right? no one stopped to ask if they spoke english or if they had prepares or if he was mexican or not. in fact, as you know, he was not. in fact, a few minutes, just a few minutes before the attack, they attacked another immigrant who was a naturalized u.s. citizen. he ran to the house, he was
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tasked, and immediately after that, they went and found and killed him. no one said a word. nobody asked him, where are you from, what language do they speak in it was based on appearance, and what's a latino who looks latino? you know, it's like a very, very complicated thing, and a very, very scary issue i find, but i think i want to stop. i'm all talked out. thank you so much, and we can keep this conversation going because we're all friends, so thanks so much for being here. [applause]
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>> when he was writing the biography of his ancestors, someone asked how he was coming along, and he said i'm working on the fifth of a projected four volume. [laughter] realm, i'm not comparing myself to winston church hill, but in regards to the johnson biog, we're in the same boat. i've been writing about lin don johnson so long that people ask me, don't you get bored? the answer is that the very opposite is true. the one reason i don't think of these books being about lyndon johnson like i didn't think of the power brokers about robert
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moses, i never had the slightest interest in writing a book just to tell the life of the famous man. from the moment i first thought of doing books, i thought of biographies -- i thought of biographies as a way of examining the great forces that shape the times that they lived in, and, particularly, political power. why are political powers so important? well, we live in a democracy, so, ultimately, we have the power and the votes that we cast at the ballot boxes, and therefore, the more that we know about how political power really works, not as it's taught in textbooks, high schools, and colleges, but the raw naked reality of political power, the better our votes should be, and the bet or oir country should be. >> over the next few weeks, booktv, now in the 15th year on c-span2, is taking a look back at authors, books, and yublishing news.

tv
Book Discussion on Hunting Season
CSPAN December 7, 2013 7:00pm-7:46pm EST

Series/Special. Mirta Ojito discusses 'Hunting Season: Immigration and Murder in an All-American Town.' (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Sussex 9, New York City 7, Us 4, New York 4, Ecuador 4, Mexico 4, U.s. 3, Jeffrey Conroy 2, Jeffrey 2, Manana 2, Suburbia 2, Imgrant 1, Walter Has 1, Joseph Persico 1, Lyndon Johnson 1, Who 1, Angelica 1, Longingness 1, Robert Moses 1, Abc News 1
Network CSPAN
Duration 00:46:00
Rating TV-MA
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel v109
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 704
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color


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on 12/8/2013
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